It has been a while since I took a Texas road trip...anyone remember my trip to Austin? Now that the year is ending, I knew it was the perfect time to take another road trip to one of Texas's most popular cities! With the massiveness of Texas, there is so much to offer in each area of the state.
San Antonio has some of the most historic sites in Texas History, some of which are the Alamo and San Fernando Cathedral. The settlement of San Antonio began in 1691 when many missionaries and Spanish explorers settled the area in order to spread Christianity and practice freedom of religion. It was these momentous events that have made hundreds of thousands of visitors all over the world witness the landmarks that shaped Texas culture today.
In addition to the significance of San Antonio's history, this was the first memorable city I've vacationed as a child. My fondest memories as a child were family road trips to San Antonio which urged me to take a quick weekend trip back after many years. I remembered being in awe of the live music, artwork, and one-of-a-kind food at the age of 6. Those experiences made me want to re-experience the city as an adult, not only to re-live my memories of San Antonio, but to gain a whole new perspective of the city outside of the populous tourist landmarks I've seen. As a tourist "veteran," read my detailed guide about how you can achieve sight-seeing the best of San Antonio.
BEST EARLY MORNING SIGHT-SEE:
Although I feel inclined to recommend this historic landmark due to the immense crowds of tourists who will wait outside forever for an hour-long tour, I will admit that it's worth seeing once if you're not familiar with Texas history. Of all the countries I've visited, I still believe that the Alamo is the most charming battle landmark I've seen. However, just be aware that the Alamo is Texas's equivalent to NYC's Time Square. Although it's known for being a tourist trap from Business Insider, this landmark had a completely different significance during the Mexico-American War. The Alamo held one of the most powerful battles during the Texas Revolution.
What I would do: As a native Texan, I wouldn't waste my time in line or pre-pay for a tour since any information provided in the tour guide could be easily found via Google search (or a Texas History textbook). Visit the Alamo early in the morning at sunrise for outside photos, maybe read some of the outdoor landmark signs, and carry on your way! From all of the past Alamo tours I've had, getting an early morning quick photo-op was when I was able to really see a close-up view of the Alamo without the crowds and revel in the architecture. That moment during my trip was enough for me to admire Texas history, and it's highly suggested for travelers who want a more personal experience from the standard tours.
MCNAY ART MUSEUM
For those of you who love art, check out San Antonio's local McNay Art Museum! This museum was once home to the upper-class couple, the Atkinson's, who collected modern art throughout their lifetime. Marion Atkinson, the wife, left her collection of over 700 artwork pieces to establish a museum upon the following of her death. Based on the official site, the majority of artwork on display are Medieval and Renaissance art, 19th- through 21st- century European and American paintings, sculptures, and photographs, Southwest collections of prints and drawings, the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, the Jeanne and Irving Mathews Collection of Art Glass, and the Art of New Mexico.
What I would do: Not only is the McNay Art Museum a masterpiece from the inside, but the exterior design has lots of character! The home-turned-museum has a European-Spanish flair that would make you want to take photos outside even before entering the doors. I would attend the museum mid-morning or mid-afternoon since natural lighting is mostly used when viewing the artwork. Check out theirhours and admission to see their discounts and holiday hours. My favorite part of the museum is taking a photo with the outdoor mosaic staircase! It's such a beauty!
BEST LUNCH WITH A VIEW:
OCHO at HOTEL HAVANA
There's a reason why this restaurant gets all the attention with tourists...it's because the service, food, and views are worth it. This petite blue restaurant is the secret charm of Hotel Havana and it's walking distance from the San Antonio Riverwalk, Tobin Center, and downtown area. Their menu is priced fair with food dishes influenced from Mexico, Cuba, and Texas. Although they offer food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Ocho is popularly known for their brunch and happy hour. If you want a chic experience in San Antonio, this restaurant has all the pizzazz.
What I would do: Parking is free but with limited spacing, so take that into consideration when dining in Ocho. I arrived during brunch hour during a week day, so I ordered the avocado salad with gulf shrimp- which I definitely recommend! From all the walking and photo-taking, Ocho was the lunch break of my dreams. I took my sweet time dining, talking, and befriending the lovely staff. Plus, the views overlooking the San Antonio River Walk were so relaxing, I had a difficult time wanting to leave! Take your time enjoying the food and company when you're here.
BEST PLACE TO SPEND THE DAY:
SAN ANTONIO RIVER WALK
The San Antonio River Walk is known for being the most popular attraction in the city as it winds around the entire city center. I'm probably biased since I've visited the San Antonio River Walk ever since I was a kid, but I believe that this place is the best spot to enjoy the day leisurely with friends and family. Some "roads" of the River Walk can get touristy from the shopping and restaurants, but I love exploring the quieter areas of the River Walk where there are lots of beautiful greenery, art installations, and historic buildings. Any type of traveler would enjoy spending time here during their trip.
What I would do: During your trip, take into consideration the weather. It's a no-brainer that everything is held outdoors, but just be sure you packed appropriate clothing since there are few areas where people can walk around underneath shelter (unless you stay inside the mall). I love finding the murals and art installations around the River Walk- they're worth snapping a photo with! Also, a fancy option I'd consider for my next trip is taking the dinner boat tour where you can ride along the river enjoying live music, gourmet food, and beautiful tree lights.
BEST EVENING SIGHT-SEE:
TOBIN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Care to listen to some music? Why not stop by San Antonio's beautiful performance art center! While the architecture has a resemblance of LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall, Tobin's Center is surrounded with beautiful fountains and palm trees- a perfect ambiance to get into the mood for attending live concerts. This world-renown performance center is considerably the most contemporary and futuristic building from the rest of the city, but it's a beauty to see in person.
What I would do: Book your tickets online in their site before the concert date to secure a seat. A variety of productions are available to watch throughout the year, such as orchestras, musicals, dances, plays, and music groups of all genres, so you'll have plenty of options to see! If you're with friends or family, make it a fancy night out and dress up for the concert- I always love finding occasions to wear a glam look. Watching a performance at the Tobin Center would be such a great way to end a trip in San Antonio since you would be supporting local talent, plus, it's conveniently located near Hotel Havana and the River Walk.
Leave a comment down below letting me know your favorite spot in my travel guide! Don't forget to subscribe to my email newsletter so you can get updated on all my posts in my blog! I'll be posting more travel guides soon, so be sure to stay updated on my Instagram, @ressamazing! Until next time- Ressa